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Teaching in Scotland at Primary and Secondary Schools

Teaching in Scotland Primary & Secondary, Teaching Jobs in ScotlandOpportunities exist for teaching in Scotland to school age children, from the islands, highlands and central areas of Scotland each year. Not enough newly qualified or existing teachers are available, a good number of classroom teachers in Scotland that are part time and full time remain unfilled by a teacher shortage in 2017.

Did you know that teachers study for different qualifications than the other parts of the UK as requirements to become qualified as a school teacher?


The page content below talks about:

  1. Primary and secondary school teaching jobs in Scotland state schools  (See here for independent private schools in Scotland)


So you want to become a school teacher in Scotland?

In 2016, 300 plus teaching posts at all levels remained unfilled in the northern areas of Scotland and the highlands & Islands. There are jobs for school teachers in Scotland each year, although you may require relocating and training to become qualified to teach certain subjects.


Teaching in Scotland


Scottish school system

Scotland’s schools curriculum varies from primary, nursery, and secondary schools. Students start at primary school at 5 years old in primary one until primary 7 in public sector schools. Secondary teaching in Scottish schools starts at 12 years old, from S1 to until S6 at 18 years old. The school year begins in August and ends the following June.

School students can leave at 16 or stay on a further 2 years.


Scotland curriculum phases

– Nursery school from 3 -5 years old (P1)
– Primary school 5-12 years old (P2-7)
– Secondary school from 12-18 years old (S1-S6)

Secondary school qualifications in Scotland from 14-16 years old are Standard Grades studied in the S3 and S4 which leads to the first level of national qualification, equal:


  • Skills for Work National Vocational Courses available to pupils aged 14 and over.
  • Standard grades are studied and award at different level up to credit level:


Intermediate, Higher and Advanced Higher courses for pupils aged 16-18. Higher and

Advanced Higher studied from 16 to 18 (S5 & S6) years old to gain entry to further education study or to university. See also: (SQA).


Curriculum for Excellence started in 2009-2010 teaching year to focus on a single coherent curriculum for all pupils aged 3 to 18 years old with an aim to increase and place more focus on numeracy and literacy and pupil choice in primary and secondary Scotland teaching curriculum.


Scotland welcomes UK and overseas trained teachers

Looking to teach in Scotland? Well, read on

Scotland is open to educators from the UK and overseas qualified teachers.  With an appropriate school age teaching qualification from your home country you can teach in Scottish state school’s if you have registered with the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS).


USA,  Canadian,  Finland, Australian,  New Zealand school age certified teachers with experience would have no problem with qualifications and registration with the GTCS.  This would enable you to be hired for teaching jobs in Scotland to teach at a nursery, primary or secondary state schools in Scotland.


GTCS teacher registration Scotland

All school teachers that qualified outside of Scotland do not automatically qualify for registration with the Scottish general teaching council that enable you to teach in Scotland.

Overseas qualified teachers may require conducting further training to qualify to teach in a Scottish school.

Qualified teacher’s from Wales, Northern Ireland, and England with a PGCE or Bachelor of Education Bed with QTS and completed their induction should have no problems with GTCS registration.


Who does not qualify?

Teacher trained via a school-based teacher training, although there are exceptions.

Teach First program teachers will find great difficulty registering with GTCS.


Qualifications and experience assessed by GTCS    (First Step)

To teach in a Scottish school first apply to have your qualifications and experience assessed and gain registration with the GTCS.

Teachers in Scotland have a choice of teaching & education at primary school and secondary school levels. Also, state or independent fee-paying schools, international schools where teachers must also be registered with (GTCS).

Scotland teaching jobs are available for all subjects in Scotland government primary and secondary schools and also independent school teaching from 4 to 18-year-old’s.


Teach in Scotland requirements

  • 2 good teaching references, one from your current or former school
  • Degree in a related subject that you will teach.  (Science degree for a science teacher!)
  • Certified/qualified school age (K12) teaching qualification from you country (Nursery, Elementary or High School Qualification)
  • One or more years teaching experience at the age level you propose to teach
  • General teaching Council Scotland registration, with identification
  • Permission to work in Scotland such as the Youth Mobility Scheme or shortage skills (Mathematics & Science Teachers)


Resident or living in Scotland for over 6 months you require a a criminal check from the following:

  • Police clearance in Scotland is completed through Disclosure Scotland, the government agency in Scotland that processes police checks. Scotland’s teachers are required to be a member of the PVG Scheme for teaching in Scotland, which is a check to work with children in Scottish schools and colleges.


Teaching requirements example: Overseas trained teacher with a degree in English, certified to teach in the USA at high school level could teach in Scotland and would secure teaching jobs in Scotland secondary schools.


Opportunities for teaching in Scotland exists for people with motivation, experience, and good classroom management skills in cities from Glasgow and Aberdeen to the Islands and rural areas if you wish.


Teacher training Scotland

Scotland teacher training providers, courses is conducted through a Diploma in Education (PGDE) after graduating with an undergraduate degree.

Universities in England offer courses in initial teacher training and a bachelor of education BEd degree which is the undergraduate 4-year degree route towards becoming a qualified teacher in Scotland.

Taster days for teaching in Scotland are arranged by schools and the Scottish government to introduce prospective teachers to Scotland teaching and education.


Scotland teacher induction

Starting your first teaching job in Scotland after training will be your one-year probationary period. The Scottish government helps newly qualified teachers find a school where they can complete their induction year.

All newly qualified teachers in Scotland that have successfully completed teacher training must complete a probationary one-year period as their first Scotland teaching job.


Teachers that wish to start teaching induction in Scotland that received a public funded teacher training grant from SAAS is automatically eligible to join the teacher induction scheme (TIS) and guaranteed their first Scotland teaching job.

Guaranteed jobs are in conjunction with any local authority (LA) in Scotland and once your probation is completed you become fully qualified for teaching in Scotland schools at primary or secondary depending on your qualification and teaching experience.


Teacher induction jobs

Teacher Induction Scheme (TIS) operates in public sector schools and provides a probation period for teacher support and mentor:

Maximum classroom teaching commitment is 0.7 full-time equivalent (190 days).

Induction salary as at April 2016 for a teacher on their first post PGDE qualification year is £22,416.


The scheme is open to all nationals in the UK and European citizens.  You must have also completed your teacher training with a Scotland University.


Basics are that you apply for the teacher induction scheme on a full-time basis and you then choose up to 5 local authorities where you would like to complete your induction training.

The local authority you are placed with then allocates you a school at primary or secondary level according to your school age PGDE training.


You have the option of letting the GTCS choose a local council for you and get a Preference Waver Scheme payment of £8,000 for secondary and £6,000 for primary teachers.  This option would be suitable if you do not mind where in Scotland you complete your induction, from an inner city school or an island school.

See the General Teaching Council Scotland website for full information under teacher induction scheme.


Induction teacher shortage subjects

Teacher shortage is more visible in core subjects and ICT, mathematics, sciences and English.  The General Teaching Council is the administrators for the (TIS) with an application deadline by end December each year.

You have a choice of a number of areas of Scotland, although you do not require to take a post through the scheme. The scheme is open to all national in the UK and European citizens as mentioned.

Not joining the (TIS) scheme? As a Scotland teacher induction job you can still complete your teaching probation through public sector school teaching with one or more temporary contracts, and supply teaching by completing no less than 270 teaching days.


Flexible route to teacher qualification

An option for new teachers to complete their induction year part-time, independent school sector or you did not complete your training at a university in Scotland.

The fee-paying independent school sector enables teachers to follow similar induction training, teaching and learning to qualify as a qualified teacher in Scotland.  You still require completing in excess of 260 hours of teaching and professional teacher training.

The Scottish Council for Independent Schools (SCIS) provides the means for probationer teachers to gain the skills, knowledge and teaching practice require becoming a successful effective classroom teacher.

Let you in for a little secret.  School pupils are pupils in any school you choose to teach in.  I personally taught in a number of schools.  Although pupils are all different they have similar characteristics.


Teaching supply agency or fixed term contracts

Not all new teachers will be able to secure a full-time job after their initial teacher training, and indeed, may not wish one.  Another option to completing your induction year is through supply teaching with a local Scottish council or a temporary contract with a Scottish school.

A fixed contract in one school will enable you to have a much more structured training schedule to complete all the compulsory components of your induction including official classroom observations in one school setting.

Supply teaching in more than one school on short term contracts can be more problematic to show evidence and to smoothly complete your required set training and portfolio evidence on short-term teaching job placements.

Think about it, you turn up to a school for say 2 weeks and then off to another school. Who is looking after you on a week by week basis.  I have also completed supply teaching, although I was already qualified and I can tell you supply teaching is a different experience from being in one school.


You have up to 5 years to complete your induction and become a fully qualified teacher for schools in Scotland; at least, you have a bit of time.  The time scale may change.


Subjects taught in Secondary schools in Scotland

Teaching jobs in Scotland are advertised where you could be a teacher of a certain subject in a Scottish secondary school including:

Modern Languages: French, Italian, Spanish, Mathematics, Geography, English, Science: Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Computing: Information Technology, History, Business & Economics, Religious Studies, Art & Design, Drama, Media, Music, Physical Education, Food & Design Technology


Scotland primary school subjects

A teacher at primary school can find jobs teaching in Scotland the following subject areas to young learners:

Numeracy, literacy, reading, writing, spelling, French, physical education, art/drawing, history, science, religious education, Geography, music, computing


So where do I find a teaching job?

With so many job boards, there is no shortage of places where teaching jobs in Scotland are advertised.  As a new teacher, your first port of call could be the local councils in Scotland.  All councils in Scotland have job advertisements and application processes.

Aberdeen City



Argyll & Bute

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar


Dumfries and Galloway


East Ayrshire

East Dunbartonshire


East Lothian


East Renfrewshire








North Ayrshire

North Lanarkshire


Perth & Kinross


Scottish Borders

Shetland Islands

South Ayrshire

South Lanarkshire


West Dunbartonshire

West Lothian


Teachers jobs in scotland schools can be in towns, cities, villages and the middle of nowhere including:

Ayr, Dundee, Arbroath, Shetland, Orkney, Galahads, Perth, Inverness, Edinburgh, Kirkcaldy, St Andrews, Stonehaven, Oban, Cumbernauld, Dunfermline, Dunbar, Berwick upon Tweed, Glasgow, Motherwell, Aberdeen, Fort William and other areas around Scotland.



Check out the following job boards for teaching jobs in Scotland

Myjobscotland  (Government website)

Guardian jobs

Times Educational Supplement Scotland

Scottish Council for Independent Schools

S1 Jobs

The Scotsman

Also on this website at times for jobs for teachers in Scotland and lecturer jobs at university


Another very useful reference is the general teaching council for information on what is required, process and where to find additional information to teach in Scotland.


Teaching in Scotland salary expectations

What do I get paid as a qualified teacher in Scotland?

You can have a good living and additional benefits as a Scottish school teacher.  You can enrol in the teacher’s pension and there are at times additional payments for teachers such as recruitment and retention payments to attract certain experienced teachers.

Classroom teacher basic salary for the first few years is outlined below.


Scotland teacher main pay grade scale

Point As  01.04.16 
0 (Probation Year)£22,416


As a teacher in Scotland, you will find that it is easier to be accepted for a mortgage, loan as it is seen as a stable job that is always going to be in demand.

Well done, if you are still here reading at this point.


Career development as a teacher in Scotland

Once you get some years of experience you can become a school head of department for English or mathematics for instance.  You will always be learning and developing your teaching style and even keeping up with the subject changes you teach.

As a school teacher, you are expected to complete and participate in school centred learning provided by the school, commonly known as school inset days.  This should be in addition to your own schedule of learning & development for career advancement.


Masters level study

What more study and qualifications!  I thought I was now a qualified teacher?

The Scottish government in partnership with selective Scottish Universities provides the opportunity for enhance professional development and learning as a teacher.

On the master’s program at one of the partner universities, you are focusing on making more informed decisions as a teacher in your subject area and year level.  See:Framework for master’s in education.


School leadership opportunities

For experienced primary and secondary school teachers in Scotland, there is a structured program of professional learning you can follow.  Of course, you will require be recommended and accepted for leadership training by your school employer.

Under developing leadership skills, the programs for future school assistant/head teachers is conducted by the Scottish College for Educational Leadership (SCEL).

The training is separate from any subject continued professional development, although much if it is integrated into your professional practice as a teacher.  You will have the opportunity to attend classes and training in other locations as a teacher for leadership training.


Teacher foreign exchange programs

Opportunities exist for overseas teachers and Scottish teachers to experience and learn from teaching in another country.  Programs and information change frequently although at any one time there are teacher exchange programs you can teach on.


Check out:

gov.scot  Maybe out of date for some information.  List of teacher exchange programs.

The League for the Exchange of Commonwealth Teachers.

UK/US Fulbright teacher exchange program.

Teacher International Professional Development programs (TIPD) are funded by the DFES.

A lot more to teaching in Scotland than one page of information.  What can you find out and experience?



Where to find jobs for school teachers in Scotland

On this website.  You could also look at Guardian education jobs


Property buying in Scotland

Looking to purchase a property in Scotland?  See the bid and buying guidance here.